Gathering to listen to Qur`anic recitations before the Friday sermon
I supervise a mosque in Gamasa where a reciter would recite the Qur`an audibly on Friday before the imam ascends the pulpit. We then decided with the mosque sheikh that each person should recite the Qur`an on his own instead. However, the majority of congregants demanded the reciter's audible recitation. Is this considered an innovation?
The command to recite the Qur`an is general. It is established in the principles of Islamic law that unrestricted matters demand their general application with regards to places, times, people and conditions. Therefore, it is impermissible to restrict this generality except with evidence; otherwise this would itself be considered an innovation in religion by restricting what Allah and His Messenger have left unrestricted.
It is established in Islamic law that objectionable innovations are those newly introduced matters that contravene Islamic law. Newly introduced matters for which there is evidence in Islamic law that it is called for, are not rejected and their doer is not blameworthy. Consequently, reciting the Qur`an audibly before the Friday sermon is not an innovation since this falls under the general injunction of reciting the Qur`an.
Based on this, restricting unrestricted matters and specifying the general without evidence is closer to innovation with regards to general matters unrestricted by Islamic law.
Having a reciter recite the Qur`an on Friday and listening to him is among the commendable gatherings of dhikr (making remembrance of Allah) and Qur`anic recitations. Both the reciter and the listener are included in the hadith of the Prophet who said, "No people gather in one of the houses of Allah, reciting the Book of Allah and studying it among themselves, without tranquility descending upon them, mercy enveloping them, the angels surrounding them and Allah making mention of them amongst those who are with Him" [Recorded by Imam Muslim from the hadith of Abu Huraira (may Allah be pleased with him)].
There is no impediment to having a reciter recite the Qur`an before the sermon on Friday. This is not considered an innovation but a praiseworthy gathering for making dhikr and Qur`anic recitations.
Allah the Almighty knows best